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speed Chopping.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:36 am

I have been noticing that all the knife videos I stumble upon on and around this site feature someone like racing to show how fast they can rough chop an onion or other vegetable. I am a line cook, so I chop a lot of stuff (we make like 100gallon batches of broth, chicken, veal demi and remouillage, and others every week or so) and I have worked with a lot of cooks and not once have I seen anyone chop stuff the way people do in these knife videos. I am curious if anyone one of you all have seen any cooks or chefs chop like this. I am wondering if i need to step my game up or if it's just for show in videos.

PS I am not knocking CKTG in anyway. I love this site, just got a set of stones from here and they are great.

Re: speed Chopping.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:24 am

It's also called "machine gunning" and it's fun to do. Many of the videos you have seen are professional chefs. Do all of them do it at work all of the time? No. it gets pretty tiring after a while and in the long run, slowing down will increase your consistency and be more able to sustain that over the long haul. It's much harder to control size and get uniform cuts at that speed, but some can do it. I can usually get pretty consistent, but there are pieces that aren't the same size occasionally.

Why speed chop? Couple reasons!
1. It's fun to do, but you need to be careful and have good technique. It's a good way of testing hand/eye coordination and your knife skills, but you need to build up to it. You shouldn't just grab a knife and go to town. I never really speed chopped until this year when I had enough skills to feel comfortable with it. I enjoy watching Chopped and one guy they commented on the knife skills because he was speed chopping, but his cuts were sloppy and uneven and food didn't cut evenly because of it. A different competitor was slightly slower, but the slices were clean and even and her knife skills were much better in general. Speed isn't always everything!
2. It tests the edge on your knife. If a knife can hold up to speed chopping, I know the edge bevel isn't too shallow and it's not chipping out. If it chips, I know to bring the edge angle up or add in a microbevel. If it sticks into the board constantly, I may also change the edge bevel. Some of the softer kitchen knives (henkels, wustoff, dexter, etc) may not hold up and the edges may roll over and make the knife dull and need a steel to realign the edge. Would I speed chop with a much harder blade, like a Honyaki? Probably not!
3. It's something different. When people can speed chop and still maintain a good quality of the cut, it shows they know what they are doing. Most people are taught to rock chop or slide chop and that is all they do or know how to do. Also, the bigger belly in many Western styled kitchen knives don't lend themselves to chopping; a longer flatter sweet spot on many Japanese style knives does work well for a speed chop!
4. Sometimes I am in a rush and need to mow thru stuff quickly. It's nice to know I can do that and still get decent cuts safely.
5. Did I mention that it's fun? :)

Re: speed Chopping.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:30 am

77 <> Interesting question. Interesting to me because it seems the premise is your closing comment, "I am wondering if i need to step my game up or if it's just for show in videos."

Your game is YOUR game; don't do something just because someone else does.

I, like you, am a professional. I have been in it over two decades now, and I definitely process product & have seen scores, if not over 100 other Cooks & Chefs, process food at the rate you are commenting on, but only when it helps us. It's not rare... at all.. it's the norm. Sometimes it's because we need to fill a deep lexan with product; other times it's because the bachelorette party is huddled giggling on the counter of the open kitchen. You gotta do what you gotta do to get the job done... completing the prep list or making your intro - whatever it takes.

You reference chopping a lot of mirepoix for your stocks, but your chicken is probably no less than 60 minutes, your re-boils are probably quite longer, and your veal stock is a shift or overnight. All of these stocks have no need for a dice because they have so long to cook; maybe the chicken if you're banging out a quick light version, but even still, they would be large dice. A dice, as you see in all those videos, would be used for a quick fire stock such as a fumet or a court bouillon where you are trying to extract the flavor in short order therefore necessitating a small quick cooking dice.

Is the focus solely on speed when a video like "speed onion" is produced? Obviously, yes. Is it ego? Of course, what other purpose does it serve than to brag, but bear in mind, some of those videos you see here on this site are produced in working kitchens. Yes, if there's time to set up a video, you're obviously not weeded, but the food is still being processed at work for work.

Just keep chopping away, and the speed will come. Remember this though, consistency in your cut is nearly always paramount. If it's so a micro-brunoise garnish looks awesome or so a vegetable cooks consistently amid it's dish... consistency is paramount.. speed comes with time & the balls to get cut.Image

Re: speed Chopping.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:13 am

Yeah don't go about changing how you do things just because you see someone flying through product. Like Melampus said speed will come. I work in a volume kitchen so I get paid to pump out volume. So speed and accuracy is a nice thing to have. But also one of the reasons why I personally do things at break neck is because for a good half a year my hand eye was VERY, and I mean VERY off. Kind of wanted to prove to myself that I still had it in me but I actually got better after that happened. But work on consistency first speed later. Getting the job done right is better than getting it done faster but having it look like crap.

Re: speed Chopping.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:22 am

At first we tried to entertain and show the knife in action.

Most of the current videos have a review type format where there is less emphasis on blasting through stuff and more on specs and discussion of grinds etc. I like this new format a lot so you will see us do more and more of these going forward.

Here is an example from yesterday:

Here is the knife:


Re: speed Chopping.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:36 pm

Of coarse it's part showing off but it is also to highlight the performance of the knife too.

Re: speed Chopping.

Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:58 pm

Thanks for the responses. what I'm taking is I need to keep practicing my skills and speed will come. wax on, wax off

The videos are great. They helped me pick out the knife I want, masakage 240mm gyuto. which is actually 245mm ( what I learned from the video)
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